Do Homeschoolers Lack Discipline?

LackDisciplineSometimes I learn as much about education from those outside the homeschooling realm as within. They give me a different perspective of how we are doing and share a little about the world in which I do not dwell. My recent lesson had to do with the apparent lack of discipline coming from homeschooling students.

It seems public schools are becoming wary of students who used to be homeschooled but now wish to resume their public education. (In our region, those wishing to rejoin the public system must take a thorough exam to verify their academic achievement.) It looks as though homeschooling students fail to have the rigor and drive it takes to adapt to a classroom setting.

In which ways are we coming short? Let’s take a look:

We fail to turn in assignments on time: It seems one of the most recent criticisms being made is that we fail to understand the concept of a deadline. We are so used to doing things at our own pace – completing projects at will – deadlines are foreign.

We fail to work in a group: A lot of homeschoolers are trained to work on projects alone. They work independently and at their own pace; working in a group can be a challenge.

We fail to communicate: As parents we tend to “pick up” on our children’s needs. Our children are not becoming familiar with making their needs known and speaking up when help is needed.

We lack order: We start our day when we want, work on whichever curriculum we want, eat lunch when it’s convenient, and generally go about our day to please our own routines. There is no concept of time management, spacial management, organization, or responsibility to others.

We lack respect: Coming from former homeschool students now attending college, it seems many homeschooled children are unfamiliar with how to properly address those in authority. Previously homeschooled students speak out in class, failing to raise their hands; they address teachers informally; and believe they can talk their teachers out of assignments.

I am sure the list could go on, but these are just some of the recent claims to hit my ears. While, at first, we might balk at these statements and quickly dismiss them, perhaps we ought to give them some consideration….

It has been said by some, they are not “training their child to climb someone else’s ladder, but to build their own”. More power to them; I’m married to an entrepreneur, so I’m all for it. However, if we are to be honest with ourselves, some of these claims have nothing to do with “climbing someone else’s ladder”, but rather common sense which is needed for everyday life.

Even if we never plan to attend college (college isn’t for everyone), discipline and order are necessary life skills. How we manage our businesses, our bills, and our homes will have a huge effect on our success in life.

As a homeschooling parent, I want to be aware of these concerns and work through them. While I do not plan for my children to ever attend public school, some (if not all) of them do plan on college. I do not want to wait until the last-minute to make my children familiar with these principles. While they are young, they should learn to be organized and neat. While they are growing, they should learn how to ask others for help and to speak up when needed. As they grow older, the concept of deadlines needs to be implemented. I want to afford them the opportunity of not just working independently (which is important), but also of working with others to complete group projects.

All of these skills make for not just a well-rounded student, but a well-rounded adult. No matter their future goals (college, motherhood, trade schools, etc), these are necessary areas of achievement. Bills need to be paid on time, households and businesses need to be well run, families work better when they work together, and organization always makes life move more smoothly.

While I do not give credence to all claims regarding homeschoolers, I find no fault in listening and praying about their accusations. Sometimes the Lord uses their concerns to open my eyes to areas in which I was blind. In the above areas, I think we are doing well. I believe we are doing our best to not only help our children learn, but to give them the necessary skills to pursue further education if they so desire. If they choose not to attend college… well, hey; at least they’ll be well prepared adults, right?

📢 Chime In!: Do you think homeschoolers lack discipline?

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30 thoughts on “Do Homeschoolers Lack Discipline?

  1. Interesting topic. My kids attended a public school for homeschooler’s. It reminded me of college. The kids took classes that were held two days a week each class session was 2 to 3 hours. I was close to the teachers and the students and neither of them saw what you are mentioning here. Even at the college level the student’s I know have said the opposite. The only thing I can agree with is about working in groups. The third grade boys in one of the classes had a harder time working together but the girls did great. Both my older sons are great team players at there current jobs. So, do they lack discipline. Not the one’s I know 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t know that everyone has these issues; I should hope they would be in the minority. However, periodical evaluation of our teaching and our children’s abilities is always of benefit.

      May the Lord give us wisdom in this area!


  2. I have heard the same information. There is always some validity in this list, but some fault can be found with those making these claims. As homeschooling parent of over ten years, I was bound to hit these accusations at some point.

    It is imperative that homeschooling parents honestly reflect upon their method of educating as well as their student’s behavior in order to improve and understand what they are doing. First, doing this allows parents to recognize weaknesses and make adjustments. Second, it often times validates the good the homeschooling family does. A third item to address are these accusations. Homeschooling parents shouldn’t feel threatened by these accusations but understand where they are coming from. It is easy to become not only defensive but also wary of their own homeschooling abilities.

    For anyone wondering how serious of an issue it is when it comes to deadlines. My oldest son was taking college courses, while in high school, where deadlines were a must. He never once turned in a late assignment. There were students of public school backgrounds that regularly missed deadlines. Those of us who do not have a concrete deadline, don’t sweat it so much.

    Working in groups is a must in college for some majors. My son has had to work with lab partners in physics and chemistry. He was found to be dependable by the fellow lab students, where a few of his lab partners were “riding the bus” while the rest worked in a group.

    My son was well liked by his college professors who found him to be respectful and a communicator. I have read the emails the professors have sent him, and they have been positive. The only negative is his experiencing college professors who should not be in the academics field. That is the big learning curve.

    I post these examples as a positive perspective for fellow homeschoolers to draw strength. All that I advise is to look at your homeschooling in order to make positive adjustments. We continually adjust our homeschooling to meet the needs of our sons and not to the expectations of others.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You made several excellent points.

      “It is imperative that homeschooling parents honestly reflect upon their method of educating…. ” We couldn’t agree more! We have nothing to fear from a frequent evaluation of not only how our student is doing, but how WE are doing as teachers. As the Lord leads, we are to doing everything to the glory of God.


  3. As a homeschool mom and co-op teacher, each of these points has tremendous merit, but it depends on the family’s personality and management style. Each year I have at least one parent request that I extend a deadline due to a family vacation or extra-curricular activity that has taken up the student’s study time. I always say no and it feels like I am teaching the parent as much as I am the child. 🙂 The other problem I see frequently is the helicopter parent who won’t let the student make a mistake. The secondary-level co-op is a great opportunity to prepare students for college-level interactions and assignments.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. As a second generation homeschooler, I feel compelled to respond to this. I’m going to speak from my heart. Not because I feel the need to discourage you in your openness to improving your child’s education. But because as someone with my unique life experience, I want to challenge some of your foundational beliefs about homeschooling. So, please bear with me… I may fail miserably in achieving my goal:)

    They are absolutely right in their observations. The problem is, they are looking at it from a system’s perspective. Not an Eternal one.
    I was homeschooled from first grade through high school. I went on to college. Ive always been able to work well in groups, I have my own way of organizing tasks and responsibilities (you may call it disorganized, but I call it ‘optimizing my environment for the harnessing of creative flow states’). I’m highly motivated by deadlines. So, while they are right, there’s always going to be exceptions.

    So, if they are right, should you change how you are doing things? First, why are you a homeschooler? Is it to allow your kids to fully experience their childhood in hopes that as adults, they will be whole people with the potential to change their world? Or is it to prepare them to play nice in an organizational system? Do you want your kids to love learning and love living, or do you want to teach them to shut down their individuality, their God-given personhood, in order to please other people? We either raise our kids to be the people God created them to be, or we mold them into something else. Something more pleasing to others, or even ourselves, but missing the mark as far as God is concerned.
    In your post, what you are really listing are skills disguised as personal defects specific to homeschool kids. Skills can be learned quite quickly. Especially by kids that love to learn new things! Character is something that is born and tended in the fertile ground of childhood. It cannot be learned quickly not easily.
    So, what are your measures of success as a homeschool parent? Is it who your children are, or is it what they can do? Education systems care only about the latter. Which is why I’m not only a former homeschool student, I’m currently a homeschool mom.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. I agree. Moments need to be set aside to step back and review, review, review.

    This is why we see the parts of the Churches, liturgical calendar, to have great value.

    The point is not about adhering to religious idealism or seeking a higher plane of existence through empty ritual, it’s about spiritual discipline; a direction that points to grateful obedience. It helps us recognize our place and yet invites us to be lifted beyond it – in a sense liberated. Not to a life of lawlessness, but a very real life of community, faith and love – following Jesus Christ in to becoming fully human.

    At a recent homeschool gathering, a parent said to me that some homeschool kids “can tend to be precocious – they have access to the “adult table” and carry themselves into a life that assumes such privileges are a given.”

    I understood why this was being said. However, in reflecting on it, I’m not sure this would apply as much to grounded Christian homeschoolers as it does to homeschoolers who aren’t. Simply because they have an authority outside themselves, that they’re accountable to.

    Those who don’t and are essentially, a law unto themselves, for instance, would struggle as much as Christians who are, too heavenly minded to remain well-balanced and grounded.

    Therefore, I’d question the use of definition and want to understand the clear distinctions that form the basis of the criticisms you’ve mentioned.

    For example: Is teaching our kids to adapt to “someone else’s ladder” grounded in a sense of conformism and appeasement. Meeting biased and self-seeking standards set by men and women? Whether that appeasement is towards the state, governing structures, party-lines, peer pressure etc – something that essentially breeds a watering down of core principles in order to “fit in and tow-the-line”; a re-education that is forced on people, through guilt and manipulation, because it doesn’t fit the controlling narratives of the desires of the day.

    Or is it a tangible and realistic, freedom to act freely on the command, “be in the world, but not of it?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, great thoughts!

      “Homeschooled kids ‘can tend to be precocious – they have access to the ‘adult table’…” Exactly!! I don’t think those children are being disrespectful, but rather, have taken for granted the informality of approaching adults.

      I would agree with you. If we, as parents, remain grounded, this issue is easily avoided. It behooves us then to ensure we are constantly seeking the Lord, asking what He wants of our learning and the discipleship of our children. As long as we are focusing on His desires for our family, we can’t go wrong.

      As for these particular arguments… they were made by the local school district in regards to homeschooled families wishing to reinstate their children into a classroom setting. It seems the kids they are taking in have issues in these areas. We have also had former homeschooled students, now in college, mention other homeschooled kids having these issues in class. These students approach teachers very informally, and will interrupt class-time expecting to receive immediate help. Some tend to expect flexible deadlines, to work at their own pace, and work with whom they please.

      In regards to “the ladder”, an acquaintance made this particular statement. While I completely support anyone’s decision to own their own business, this reference implied something deeper. This particular parent was offended that their child be expected to meet deadlines, and implied their child would own their own business so they could do things however they liked. (It was more an attitude of the heart which needed adjustment.) Even in business, we are to do everything to the glory of God. Owning our own “ladder” does not mean these skills are unnecessary, but that we have the freedom and privilege of serving God in our own company.

      From time-to-time, we all need to reflect on where we are. Have we strayed from what the Lord has asked of us, or going strong? If we are faithfully following, then we continue as directed. If not, perhaps this is the Lord’s method of redirecting us to where He wants us to be.

      Granted, these statements ARE generalizations, and not true of all homeschoolers by any means. However, they are a great launching point for reflection and prayer. If I ever reach a point where I believe I have it all together, and no room for improvement, I pray the Lord opens my eyes and shows me His truth.

      Thanks, as always, for chiming in!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with all the things on your list. I can see all of that in our home, as well. However, I will say that I think homeschooled kids have more respect for authority than public school kids. In fact, they mingle and communicate well with ALL ages. If I say hi to a kid on the street, I swear they look away or get nervous (OMG why is an ADULT talking to me!). My children love playing with their siblings, but I’ve seen so many public school kids who will not associate with kids outside of their grade… even their own family members. Yes, this may seem like a huge generalization, but I’ve witnessed it countless times. Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent… lack discipline? Probably in many areas because it’s a different kind of discipline.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I would say homeschoolers have more respect, generally speaking, for adults. However, as Rod mentioned, I believe our children can take for granted the ability to approach adults at will.

      Our kiddos need to learn there is a time and place for addressing adults informally. They also need to learn when it is appropriate to speak openly, or wait to be heard. I believe Traci Matt made several good points in regards to our role as parents.

      And, you are correct, this IS a generalization, and each homeschooling family will function differently. I’m loving hearing everyone’s perspective on this interesting topic!

      Liked by 1 person

    • 1. Most homeschoolers had deadlines and if they ever played on a team sport or took lessons or were in a community play, etc. they knew there were dates and times where they were expected to show up prepared!
      2. Most homeschoolers can work well in groups because they are already used to pulling their own weight, plus if they played on a team sport or had siblings, they already had experience with group activities.
      3. Most homeschoolers are comfortable speaking up/out and asking questions because they were free to do so at home.
      4. ALL college students are on their own time table! Some students have early morning classes. Other have afternoon classes that allow them to sleep in. This semester, my daughter has several online classes that allow her to log in whenever she wishes. Some students work their class schedule around part time jobs. Homeschooled students are quite likely to adjust well to college life (which is very different than K-12) because they already know how to be responsible for their own learning and have already been on their own time table.
      5. Each professor has their own preference for how they are addressed. Some actually prefer to be called by their first names. Some actually encourage open communication in class without the formality of raised hands. Most homeschoolers already have experience with elderly neighbors, church leaders, etc. and know how to show adults proper respect.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I love how this topic is opening up some great discussion! On that note…

        While I don’t think every homeschooler has these issues, I have observed them first hand on several occasions, and merely wish to point out that reflection on our personal teaching methods is of benefit.

        I believe it starts with us as parents setting a good example. Are we on time both for events and in the turning in of paperwork? Do we model participation with good attitudes and a willingness to serve? While we might feel comfortable speaking in public, do we know our limits and when to hold our tongues?

        Generally speaking, I think most dedicated homeschooling families are doing just fine. And, as I mentioned in the OP, I don’t believe in giving credence to every observation made regarding homeschoolers. However, I do think we are to use wisdom in our teaching; not taking for granted we are doing a good job, but seriously seeking the Lord in how He wishes us to lead our children.

        Thanks for chiming in, and sharing your daughter’s thoughts with us!


  7. I agree that those skills are what all children need to have to become well-rounded adults. As I too have fallen into the “too relaxed” mode that homeschooling affords us, this post is a good reminder to keep focused on the long-term goals for us and to set a good example for them to follow. I also agree that enrolling our kids in sports and other activities will help them learn those very necessary skills. Thanks for the gentle reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think my kids would for sure have lots of issues if put into a homeschool situation. A homeschool mom friend of mine passed away last year and her kids had to go to public school. I felt so bad for them. I know that if my child had never been in public school, there would be none of the issues you mentioned, but there would be other issues.

    My kids do not have a lack of respect for adults who respect them, but when an adult disrespects my child, my child does not respect that adult. This I have taught my children on purpose. I have taught my kids to be assertive and tell the rude adult off. For example, I have taught them to tell an adult authority figure he or she is wrong if that person says something to my child such as, “You are stupid.” My children know that the best reply to such talk is, “No. I am not stupid. I am smart. I am not going to listen to you.” If an adult authority figure says to my child, “You are lazy,” then my child has the right to say, “I am not lazy. I help my mom in the garden. I read my assigned books. I do my homeschool assignments. I do the dishes. I do not have to listen to you when you say mean things to me.”

    I am positive this would be an issue in the school system, as the verbally abusive authority figure would not be accustomed to such assertiveness and verbal self-defense.

    I am positive it would be an issue for one, because my children have had to say things like this to certain adults in our lives. These adults have had to adjust to it. They did not like the adjustment, but they no longer fling insults at my kids, as they know they cannot get away with it.

    As for the raising of hands thing, my kids do that regularly. The ones who were never in public school learned it in church and from siblings who were once public-schooled. They have also learned it by being in public settings such as community meetings, tours and field trips they attend while public schoolers are in school.

    About the deadline thing, my kids are familiar with deadlines. They know they have to have their gift made for their sibling before Christmas. They know that they have to have the card made before the person’s birthday. They know that we have to have certain garden tasks done before it rains and the planting done on time. They know that in home canning, we must do the peaches before they rot. They know they have to eat those leftovers before a week is out or they get thrown away. They know they have to complete their homeschool assignment before going to their activity. They know they have to complete certain grade level requirements before I can announce they have completed that grade level. Saying homeschooled kids do not understand deadlines is silliness. Perhaps the kids complained about just don’t want to do the assignments because they are educated enough to know it is just a big waste of their time and there are more important things to do with the time they have been given in life. I agree with these smart kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a load of nonsense from those classroom teachers. I would love to know how this list was compiled, and how wide the net was spread to gather this information. It sounds a bit like pub bar philosophy to me.

    I taught secondary school pupils (aged 11 – 18) for twelve years, and I can tell you that the lapses on the list are typical problems seen in *every* school classroom. I saw this sort of behaviour all the time. This list of moans can be heard in every staffroom, about schooled kids. In other words, immature young adults behave in an immature way. Call the newspapers, it’s an exclusive …

    I am suspicious about the labelling of home educated children — look at the contradictions in the list. Home edded kids don’t communicate their needs, but they are too free to speak out to teachers? How does that work?

    Don’t be too inclined to give so much credence to the views of a teacher or two with an urge to generalise. They assumed that behaviour was due to the children coming from an out-of-school setting, when in fact it is exactly the same behaviour as the schooled children exhibit. I am afraid that there will always some peoplee who don’t like something new or different; although home education is familiar to us, it’s a bit of a shock to some other people,and they are instinctively hostile, which is demonstrated in labelling and fault-finding.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t believe teachers are saying that all such issues are present in all students, but that such are present in various students. Some might have trouble speaking, while others speak out.

      And, while I too give little credence to complaints against homeschoolers, as has been previously stated, it never hurts to self-reflect on our own teaching methods and parenting habits to ensure we are on the right track. (Which is really the purpose of the article.)

      Great thoughts; thanks for sharing!


  10. PS I am not having a pop at you, dear Homeschoolmomblogger. This blog is fabulous, and I am enjoying the various sections. I just wanted to offer a robust rebuttal of what I see as illogical nonsense masquerading as deep professional insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great points to note as homeschoolers. There are homeschoolers and there are homeschoolers. And some I have met are very laid back and I suppose when they enter a class setting it becomes tough for them to adjust. Again, these are good points to take note of as we prepare our children to wherever they need to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When I was a school teacher (before becoming a homeschool mom), the former-homeschooled students I encountered were students who had quit homeschooling because somehow homeschooling wasn’t working for them. One was a terrific student whose mom couldn’t explain algebra and he needed more than a video to watch in order to understand it; he just needed someone to answer a few questions. After failing twice at algebra at home, she put him in school. He was a joy to teach and I always wondered why his mother hadn’t simply hired a tutor on occasion. He excelled in school, never earning less than a 98% on any assignment, quiz or test. His work was very neat and organized and so much better than that of any of the other students. He was polite, did well in groups, etc. He had none of the issues cited above; he simply had a mom who didn’t know when to call in reinforcements to get a bit of help along the way.

    Another was an example of failed homeschooling at its worst; this young man was failing algebra miserably. When I spoke to him about it, he confessed that mom had left him and his brother alone to teach themselves. They’d found the answer key and for years did nothing more than copy answers. She never asked them to do a problem in front of her, never checked their work, never talked to them about their lessons, and her son was so hopelessly lost in algebra that he really needed to get out of school and work intensively one-on-one with a tutor for a year or two to have any hope of passing in school. His failure wasn’t a sign that all homeschoolers need to improve, but it was a sign that hands-off homeschooling isn’t the way to do well in math.

    On the other hand, I was homeschooled for a couple of years as a child. When I went back to a public school, my troubles in transitioning were dealing with bullies, and dealing with teachers who didn’t understand that an American citizen could have lived the majority of her life abroad and not understand American culture. School lessons were a breeze except in things like American history and geography since we hadn’t studied those at all, but then again, I’d started school in Australia and had used Australian curriculum when homeschooled as we intended to return to Australia. So my issues were related more to cultural differences. I think transitioning to the classroom is likely more of a problem for those who have a lot of energy and find the sitting still and waiting (there’s so much of that in schools) difficult to handle.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Some great things to consider! Thank you. I think that I, as the Homeschool teacher, can sometimes lack self discipline, and when we, as teachers don’t always have it, our kids can also struggle with it. This is something I work on a lot! My biggest struggle is keeping up with other tasks not related to homeschooling! But, those tasks absolutely affect how our homeschool day goes. On the flip side, though, I feel like outsiders might feel like we are not disciplined because we don’t run our homeschool like the public school. If that is the case, I feel they just truly don’t understand the vision of what home education is really like.

    Deadlines are something I am aware of and that we do try to address in our homeschool. We also teach respect and speaking up. But, how my students will be once leaving the nest will determine what kind of job I did, I guess.

    I agree that we often react when negative things are said about homeschoolers, but taking a step back to pray and evaluate is wise. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

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